The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult. Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process. Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression. The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.
Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks. On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine. After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m. We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot. They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely. We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property. At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.
We turned right again and started the ascent into woodland. It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath. A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion. I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake. Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.
Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path. A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork. This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.
Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers. As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.
I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet. Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.
We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village. We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next. Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left. We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.
Amongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.
A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost. She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave. Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it. There are usually pens and stuff on it”. Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath. She looked the type”. I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.
We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked. He thought he might have left it at home. I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark. Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.
We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves. We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked. I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop. On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it. We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer. When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!” Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!
More pictures at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5MOEgjdfTeeeTetXg